About the Department
Frederick S. Danzinger Associate Professor of Government and Social Studies
Eric Beerbohm is Frederick S. Danzinger Associate Professor of Government and the Committee on Social Studies at Harvard University and Director of Graduate Fellowships at the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics. His philosophical and teaching interests include democratic theory, theories of distributive justice, and the philosophy of social science. His current book project, If Elected: The Ethics of Lawmaking and Campaigning, develops a theory for lawmakers and candidates operating within a malfunctioning legislative system. What kinds of commitments, promises, and pledges can candidates make? The rise of the “victory lab" calls for an update in our ethics of the political stump. Today citizens are recruited into campaign experiments without their consent or knowledge. And in a legislature marked by a diversity of injustices, what are the moral limits of legislative politics? His third project, Small Government, considers the division of labor between the public, voluntary, and private sectors. It raises agent-relative problems for distributive justice: How much must the state do itself? What can it privatize? And what can it offload to voluntary organizations? His first book, In Our Name: The Ethics of Democracy (Princeton University Press, 2012, 368 pp.), considers the responsibilities of citizens for the injustices of their state. A Marshall Scholar, Truman Scholar, and Mellon Fellow in the Humanities and Social Sciences, he received his Ph.D. from Princeton University in 2008, B.Phil. in Philosophy from Oxford University, and BA in Political Science and the Program in Ethics in Society from Stanford University. He is a recipient of the 2012 Roslyn Abramson Award, Harvard's highest award for teaching given annually to two faculty in Arts and Sciences for "excellence and sensitivity in undergraduate teaching." He is Founding Director of the Undergraduate Fellowship Program at the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics.
- In Our Name: The Ethics of Democracy (Book Website; Endorsements; Introduction; Chapter 1: How to Value Democracy; Chapter 9: Democratic Complicity; Chapter 10: Not in My Name
- If Elected: The Ethics of Lawmaking and Campaigning (Abstract)
- Chapter 1: The Inner Morality of Lawmaking
- Chapter 2: Representation's Dilemma
- Chapter 3: Is Democratic Leadership Possible?
- Chapter 4: The Problem of Clean Hands: Negotiated Compromise
- Chapter 5: The Inner Morality of Campaigning
- Chapter 6: Electioneering and The Problem of the Other Horse
- Chapter 7: Damned If You Don't: The Limits of Legislative Politics
- Chapter 8: Blaming Congress: A Field Guide
- Chapter 9: Inducing Legislative Action
- Small Government (Abstract; Working Chapters: "The Free Provider Problem"; "By Our Hands"; "The Common Good")
- “The Problem of Clean Hands: Negotiated Compromise in Lawmaking,” NOMOS: Compromise, ed. J. Knight, New York University Press, forthcoming (w/ replies from D. Dyzenhaus and A. Ford)
- “Is Democratic Leadership Possible?” revise/resubmit with all four reviewers "positive," American Political Science Review
- “The Ethics of Electioneering,” conditionally accepted, Journal of Political Philosophy
- “The Conceptual Priority of Injustice,” Jurisprudence, Volume 5: Issue 1, 2014, with reply by Amartya Sen
- “The Free Provider Problem: Distributive Justice as a Public Responsibility,” in Democracy and Philanthropy, eds. R. Reich, L. Bernholz, C. Cordell, forthcoming.
- “Mansbridge’s Rules of Order,” to appear in Oxford Handbook of Classics in Contemporary Political Theory, ed. by Jacob Levy, University of Oxford Press.
- “Perpetual Giving Machines,” Boston Review, Fall 2013
- “Democracy as an Inflationary Concept,” Representation, 10:1 (2011)
Papers Under Review/Working Papers
- “The Common Good: A Buckpassing Account,” with Ryan Davis
- “Detecting Causal Masking,” with Adam Glynn and Anton Strezhnev
- “The Vote Pump Argument: Procrastination in Lawmaking”
- “Nozick’s Wager: Uncertainty and Distributive Justice”
- "Coherence as a Design Principle: A Response to John Ferejohn”
- “Tolerable Injustice: Decency as a Moral Category”
- “Truth, Lies and Public Reason: A Reply to Joshua Cohen,” with Kritika Yegnashankaran
- “Politics, Stakes, and Integrity”
- "Small Government Egalitarianism"
- “For a Smaller Moral World: Usable Political Theory"
- "Rats in the Victory Lab: Democratic Citizens as Experimental Subjects"
1737 Cambridge Street, CGIS K421, Cambridge, MA 02138 (617) 384-9268
Mondays 11a - 12p @ CGIS K421; Thursdays 3:30 - 4:30p @ Safra Center
- Gov 10: Foundations of Political Theory
- Social Studies 40: Philosophy and Methods of Social Science
- Gov 3000: Safra Graduate Seminar: Acting and Knowing Under Structural Injustice
Scheduled Talks for 2014-2015:
- Sullivan Lecture on Ethics and Government, Georgetown University, 2015
- Keynote Speaker, Conference on Democratic Compromise, University of Copenhagen
- Oxford University
- Essex University
- London School of Economics
- Duke University
- University College London
- Washington University
- College of the Holy Cross, Debate on Democracy and Voter Ignorance
- “The Vote Pump Argument,” American Philosophical Association Annual Meeting, Panel on Collective Inaction, December 2014
Past Undergraduate Courses
- Social Studies 98id: Ethics and Public Policy
- Gov 94: Junior Tutorial on Global Justice
- Gov 94: Egalitarianism
- Gov 3000: Safra Graduate Seminar: Normative Powers, Theories of Law and Lawmaking, Democratic Equality: Distributive or Social?e or Social?
- Gov 2088: Ethical Foundations of Political Thought (w/ Michael Rosen)
Photo courtesy of Stephanie Mitchell/Photographer, Harvard Gazette